Tag Archives: traditions

The idolatry of tradition

Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).

The distinction between law and tradition in religion is a perpetual struggle. My feeble attempt to illustrate my understanding is not without flaw, but I hope it will be of some help.

A law is something with a definitive boundary. You can put a circle around it. If something is authorized by God, then it is law. To make no attempt to conduct oneself inside that circle is to sin. To draw a new circle and do something different is to sin. To function within that circle, but with the wrong attitude, is to sin.

LT1

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I believe in the restoration movement

Sheep

by Stan Mitchell

“We all, like sheep have gone astray, we have turned – every one – to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6, ESV).

I believe in the principle of restoration. Because humans habitually, sinfully wander from God, I believe that restoration is a constant necessity, not just in every generation, but in every life, and in my case, every day.

Sailors have always depended on the North Star for their direction. A stormy night might obscure their view, a confused navigator might make a mistake, but the star remained the same. And a ship that was off course could always correct its direction, restore it to its rightful place.

I believe that the Restoration is a process, a movement in the true sense of the term. I am fearful of prideful claims to have restored the church in its every facet in our day.

I fear it for two reasons. First, life has a way of throwing wrinkles at us. Technology and medical advances constantly confront the church with new ethical dilemmas. Alexander Campbell never had to ask about the moral implications of human genome cloning; we do.

Satan will continue to find new and original innovations to throw at us. On a case by case basis, we will have to ask, “Is this new outreach method, or this new angle on worship biblical?” This process of holding a practice up to scripture is the process of restoring New Testament Christianity.

The second reason I fear claims to “have” restored Christianity in our day is that churches, inevitably, gather the dust of opinion and unexamined tradition over time. Churches of Christ, too, are human. We received no inoculation against error.

Traditions may be good and beneficial; we may continue to use some if they are. But the restorationist must constantly seek scripture to define that which is tradition, and make the distinction! A fellowship whose authority lies in a place other than scripture does not make this distinction; we must.

I believe in restoration because God demands it. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen,” he urges us, “Repent and do the works you did at first!” (Revelation 2:5). Repentance and restoration go hand in hand. I do not foresee a time when humanity will grow beyond either.

In Groundhog We Trust

by Tim Hall
A long-standing tradition urges us to examine our professions.
punxphil2.jpgWe might as well get ready for the reports. On February 2, just as in years past, there will be news reports from Punxsutawney, PA.
This town of just over 6,000 residents attracts thousands for the annual ritual of the groundhog. Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow on that date. The nation will wait anxiously to see if Phil sees his shadow.
The tradition began in this Pennsylvania town in 1886, but goes deeper in time in Europe. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we are told, he will be frightened into returning to his burrow and another six weeks of winter weather will ensue.
Everyone hopes Phil doesn’t see his shadow!
Does anyone today really believe this method of climatology? Do we put away our winter clothes if we hear that Phil didn’t see his shadow? Or is it just good-natured fun that doesn’t affect any of our decisions?
Sadly, many approach their religion in much the same way. Though they profess belief that Jesus emerged from his grave long ago, nothing really changes in their lives as a result of that belief.
Their values, their behavior, their speech — they’re all about the same as anyone else’s.
Paul wrote about how our lives should change: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Because Jesus rose, we will all be raised one day. And then what? That’s the point at which our faith begins to show.
Peter was more direct: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 2:11).
The fact that Jesus rose from the grave and will return to earth some day should affect the way we live in the meantime.
Punxsutawney Phil is based on nothing more than fables. Our religion in Christ is not based on fables. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Peter knew his faith was based on reality. So is ours if we follow the apostles’ doctrine.
We’ll all chuckle and wink knowingly when we hear the report from Pennsylvania next week. Then we’ll go on with our lives as if nothing happened. May that never be the case with the way we view Jesus’ resurrection!